© — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
Colemans Western Kings forward Jordan Richards carries the puck up ice during a recent practice at the Pepsi Centre.
CORNER BROOK Daniel McCarthy knows full well strange things can happen in a game of hockey, but he’s confident the Coleman Western Kings will be able to knock the frost out of the Central Ice Pak.
McCarthy will be between the pipes when the Kings clash with the Ice Pak in the opening game of a provincial major midget hockey league best-of-seven affair 7 p.m. Saturday at the Pepsi Centre.
The Kings won top spot in the provincial league and will have home-ice advantage throughout the post-season, while the IcePak finished in fourth spot and have the task of trying to knock the Kings off their throne.
The Kings had an easy time with the Ice Pak during the regular season with a 10-2 record.
The only losses the team suffered against the IcePak occurred during a road trip to Lewisporte whereby the Kings were missing McCarthy and former Kings sniper Jordan Kennedy, who has since been released by the team so he could join the Gatineau Olympiques — the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League franchise that drafted him.
“We know that on any given night anybody can win or lose a game, but hopefully if we play our game I don’t think we should be in for a tight, close series,” McCarthy said Wednesday afternoon.
McCarthy is expected to provide the Kings with sparkling goaltending like he did all season as he piled up Ws to claim the No. 1 puckstopping role with the offensive-minded Kings.
He will be ready for the challenge and respects his opponent, but feels the key for the Kings is keeping Ice Pak star Cody Drover — the winner of the league’s Most Valuable Player award this year — at bay because he has the ability to change a game with one shot.
“He can definitely be a game-changer,” McCarthy said of the talented Drover.
“We got to contain him and make sure he’s not on his game, because if not he can definitely change things around.”
The Kings enter the weekend set, which will see Game 2 go ahead Sunday 10 a.m. at the Pepsi Centre, with a pretty healthy roster with the exception of power forward Neil Woolfrey who is expected to miss a few weeks with an undisclosed medical conditon.
However, McCarthy is quick to point out the Kings have dealt with adversity with suspensions and injuries to key personnel all season and have still found a way to win hockey games.
The Kings showed grit and determination heading into the final weekend in a heated battle with the St. John’s Privateers for top spot and racked up four wins in a row to clinch top spot, so McCarthy is confident the Kings will be able to get the job done with the rest of the supporting cast.
“He’s a big loss to us, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world either,” McCarthy said of Woolfrey.
“We’ve been tight all year. The loss of Jordan was huge to us, but we battled through it and won first place, so I think it’s just another bump in the road.”
The other semifinal series, featuring the second-place Privateers and third-place St. John’s Maple Leafs, gets underway this weekend with games slated for Saturday and Sunday at the Goulds Arena.